Mixed martial arts lost one of its pioneers on Oct. 24, when Jeff Blatnick died from complications due to heart surgery at the age of 55.
Born in Niskayuna, N.Y., Blatnick became a high school wrestling champion and then earned a pair of NCAA Div. II wrestling titles while attending Springfield College in Springfield, Mass. He qualified for the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow but was unable to compete due to the United States’ boycott of the event. Following a battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Blatnick went on to capture Olympic gold in Greco-Roman wrestling in 1984 in Los Angeles.
The New Yorker made his foray into mixed martial arts as a commentator at UFC 4 in 1994 and remained employed in that capacity through 2001. Blatnick then turned his primary focus to regulation of the sport, drafting the Mixed Martial Arts Council manual and serving as that body’s chair. He also performed duties as a licensed judge in New Jersey and volunteered as a high school wrestling coach in his home state.
Other stories of interest on Sherdog.com this week centered on UFC lightweight contender Anthony Pettis’ scary battle with staph, the possibility of a Jon Jones-Anderson Silva super fight, a Top 10 list for matches that went unmade and Team Alpha Male’s Chad Mendes handling his legal woes.